No romance: National Zoo artificially inseminates panda

WASHINGTON – Smithsonian Reproductive scientists and vets performed a second artificial insemination on giant panda Mei Xiang Saturday.

Mei Xiang was inseminated with frozen semen from two different males, according to a news release from the National Zoo. One of the specimens is thawed sperm from the San Diego Zoo’s giant panda Gao Gao, collected in 2003. The other is from the National Zoo’s Tian Tian, also collected in 2003.

During the first artificial insemination, scientists used a combination of fresh and frozen semen from Tian Tian.

Gao Gao was born at in China and arrived at the San Diego Zoo in January 2003. While he’s shown interest in female pandas, Gao Gao had not fathered any cubs before arriving to the San Diego Zoo, according to the release. Since 2003, he’s fathered five cubs.

Because of the nature of the procedure, National Zoo scientists will run a paternity test on Mei Xiang if a cub is born, the release says.

The National Zoo’s panda habitat has reopened to the public and visitors can see both Mei Xiang and Tian Tian.

Follow @WTOP on Twitter.